Photograph by Abe Goodale
Photograph by Abe Goodale
Photograph by Abe Goodale
Photograph by Abe Goodale
Photograph by Abe Goodale
Photograph by Abe Goodale
Photograph by Abe Goodale
Photograph by Abe Goodale
Photograph by Abe Goodale

David Bohm's Theory of Wholeness as it Relates to Healing

David Bohm was a contemporary quantum physicist who laced spirituality, mysticism, philosophy and psychology into his scientific theories. In his book, Wholeness and the Implicate Order, he delves into the nature of reality with devotion to understanding and validating unbroken wholeness. While he writes of theoretical physics with a philosophical tongue, he supports his suppositions with mathematical equations reflecting technical as well as quantum physics. This paper will discuss some of Bohm's basic tenants while elucidating the relativity to healing and psycho-spiritual development.

Illusory thoughts

David Bohm suggests that our experience is organized by our thoughts; how we think about things is a convenient way of organizing our lives. But, as we think about things, we tend to believe these things to be true and unchangeable. Our thought, however, is typically illusory, rigid, and fixed; it is fragmentary in nature, separating us from one another, from the whole and from ourselves. He re-iterates that "...wholeness is what is real, and that fragmentation is the response of this whole to man's actions, guided by illusory perception, which is shaped by fragmentary thought" (Bohm, 1980, p. 9). We must bring awareness to our habit of fragmentary thought in order to alter it and thereby live in wholeness.

The same precept holds true in psycho-spiritual development. We are conditioned to think a certain way due to our heritage, upbringing, culture and own minds. We develop faulty beliefs based on this conditioning and come to believe this is an accurate account of reality. To bring attention to what is here, to become familiar with what we consider truth, to question our faulty beliefs and allow our thoughts to transform is an essential part of coming home to our true selves, healing, understanding and growing. The intention of healing is to bring awareness to ways in which we feel, think and act from a place of separation, illusion and fragmentation. This awareness facilitates healing and the return to wholeness. Bohm (1980) suggests, "So what is needed is for man to give attention to his habit of fragmentary thought, to be aware of it, and thus bring it to an end. Man's approach to reality may then be whole, and so the response will be whole" (p.9).


Bohm grapples with the nature of duality in his discourse on fragmentation and wholeness. He speaks of how opening to original and creative insight without fixed limits would lead to an end of fragmentation. But, such an opening would be immeasurable, as it has no boundaries. Such an insight would be immeasurable for insight cannot come from ideas that are already in the field (if the insight is not already existing, it cannot be measured). This means we would be expanding beyond what is currently considered reality; we would be in new terrain. The boxes we attempt to fit our thoughts, creative expressions and selves into, would be eliminated. It is in that which is immeasurable that contains the formative cause of everything that is measurable. Otherwise, everything that is, has emerged from what was, or actually what was not. What we can measure and what we cannot are simply two ways of considering the whole. To reduce or eliminate fragmentation or separation into wholeness is Bohm's goal; the means is by bridging the dualities our minds have created. This is an example of exactly the kind of thinking Bohm speaks of. He is 'outside the box', considering the unfathomable from a fathomable position. He does not exclude either pole of whatever duality he explores, for there is always a way to relate back to the wholeness of nature as including both/and.

The goal of healing is to understand how we separate from ourselves and from source. Our minds have created the concept of separation; the separation is from source, from other, from nature and/or from ourselves. Yet, in reality, we are always connected to source and to every other thing. The duality is actually one and the same; the poles are created by our thoughts, supported by our language, our sense of reality, and our belief system. This is similar to the relationship between the divine essence of a human and the distress of suffering that we create with our minds. They are two and the same; the distinguishing factor is the process of the mind's interpretation. Our essence, or divinity, is never altered; it never ceases to be. Our minds interpret the world to lead us to believe we are not divine, but suffering and we create a reality where we identify with that fabricated, fragmented suffering.

Bohm applies his non-fragmented thinking to the concept of facts. We consider a fact to be established and stable. But, the stability is only relative and the fact is always being tested. Facts are regularly refined, modified and changed (Bohm, 1980). With the softening of the rigidity around facts, as we know them, not only do endless possibilities open, but also the ever-changing nature of the universe is exemplified. A fact is no longer a fact, but a variable. Yet, it has rightly also been considered a fact. And we are back at the circular, rather than linear, notion that a fact is and is not - there is no separation, the fragmentation of facts is dissolved as the impression of a fact has expanded to also be considered its opposite.

What we thought of as our finite existent opens to include new discoveries. With an acceptance of wholeness there is the possibility for acceptance of quantum healing techniques, extra terrestrial existence and the subtle effects of consciousness on human development. High sense perceptions that account for seeing beyond the physical, accessing the past through the cellular memory of what we call the present, prophecy of the inferred future, defying laws as gravity and relativity, all become not only possible, but have always been possible and are merely a fraction of what is possible. Facts as we know them retain their significance but with comparative fluidity. Extroverting what is difficult to grasp is a step toward accepting and de-rigidifying the same. Bohm's work is, in itself, a step toward new deliberations. The potential is awesome when we consider that "... even such a 'new whole' will itself be revealed as an aspect in yet another new whole. Thus, holonomy is not to be regarded as a fixed and final goal of scientific research, but rather as a movement in which 'new wholes' are continually emerging" (Bohm, 1980, p. 198).

Knowledge and Reality

Everything is always changing and in flux (Bohm, 1980). If what we consider to be knowledge is in flux, then there would be no knowledge unless there is all knowledge. Since knowledge is ever changing, one cannot have it all unless we take into account the past and future, all the changes, all the potential and all the possibilities for knowledge, and even all the interpretations of knowledge. We are then considering knowledge beyond the confines of space and time; we are also considering non-knowledge, or knowledge that isn't knowledge yet. Once again, Bohm concludes that knowledge and no knowledge are of the same whole; they are not possible to separate.

Reality is not a thing, for it is forever changing. Reality then, is unknowable so how do we know it exists at all? The opposite is the same as it's opposite; there is no one with out the other. There is no thought without non-thought. There is no reality without the unknown, which is not reality. There is no duality. There is only wholeness. And wholeness is not stagnant but also ever moving. Thought and non-thought, reality and non-reality, knowledge and unknowing are like an infinity symbol, a yin/yang. David Bohm's intense and thorough investigation of these dualities is unerring. It is ultimate Zen - highly intellectual, purely philosophical, profoundly spiritual and meticulously scientific.


Bohm (1980) puts forward "... the fact that there is a minimum unpredictable and uncontrollable disturbance in every measurement process" (p. 91). With constant unrest, due to incessant change, there is no permanence in the quantum domain. Testing wave frequencies in a laboratory setting demonstrates how a change in the spin of one atom immediately affects the spin of a relative atom. This leads to the concept of indivisibility. There cannot be separation or division when everything is always changing and as one thing changes, there is an immediate effect on other things. We affect one another; the change in what we consider inanimate objects affect us, the rays of the television creates changes in everything. We are inter-changing and inseparable. We are whole even in our fragmentation!

The Ubuntu phrase 'I am because you are and you are because I am', is an expression of this indivisibility. In healing work, there is no separation between the healer and the client. We access one another; when the healer resonates at a given frequency, the client will immediately respond. When the client is in a certain frame of mind or state of being, the healer is equally affected. Bringing awareness to the moment, to the constancy of the change, to the movement as well as the stagnation, to the apparent dualities with an understanding of no separation, is being in wholeness. To heal means to restore wholeness or to become whole. Bohm's work is highly supportive of healing!

Mind and body are not only related and constantly changing in relation to one another, but are ultimately one of a higher dimension that is even more comprehensive and deeper than either mind or body independently. Bohm (1980) explains this eloquently:

In the implicate order we have to say that mind enfolds matter in general and therefore the body in particular. Similarly, the body enfolds not only the mind but also in some sense the entire material universe.... So we are led to propose further that the more comprehensive, deeper, and more inward actuality is neither mind nor body but rather a yet higher- dimensional actuality, which is their common ground and which is of a nature beyond both. Each of these is then only a relatively independent sub-totality and it is implied that this relative independence derives from the higher-dimensional ground in which mind and body are ultimately one. (p. 265)
The implicate paradigm supports the philosophy that mind, emotion and spirit influence the physical domain and therefore affecting change in these arenas will influence health of the physical body. The hierarchy of healing presumes that what affects the spirit will affect the mind, thusly the emotion and finally the body, and that the state of one of these dimensions will affect all the others. Healing on one realm of being will also affect change on the others. We can conclude that there is no separation between mind and body.

Time and the universe

The notion of time is addressed in Bohm's (1980) implicate order: "What we are proposing here is that sequences of moments that 'skip' intervening spaces are just as allowable forms of time as those which seem continuous" (p. 268). Linear time allows only for moment-to-moment accountability; Bohm suggests that skipping over time, not being able to account for time, and having time pass us by, is just as acceptable. With this expanded scheme of time, there is viability to the notions of being able to go back in time, to re-visit past lives, to access the history of a person in any cell of that person. It allows for the possibility of jumping ahead, predicting the future, for time to pass in another dimension without accounting for time in what we consider the normal physical dimension. Time travel, multiple realities that defy conservative concepts of time and even bi-location can be explored with a firm foundation in quantum physics as Bohm's theories gain recognition and application.

Bohm proposes that the entire universe, the totality of existence has to be understood as an undivided whole. I take comfort in the inclusion his theory offers, the inclusion of life on other planets, the inclusion of any new proposition whatsoever. Expanded or alternate dimensions of reality are included in the implicate order. There is not a necessity to prove anything about such dimensions, for as a continually emerging movement, all potentials are within acceptable limits, there is no 'too far out', deviation from the norm ceases to be an issue and transpersonal mysteries become universal. Bohm (1980) allows for the full expression of unending creativity:

... on our proposed views concerning the general nature of 'the totality of all that is' we regard even this ground as a mere stage, in the sense that there could in principle be an infinity of further development beyond it. At any particular moment in this development each such set of views that may arise will constitute at most a proposal. It is not to be taken as an assumption about what the final truth is supposed to be, and still less as a conclusion concerning the nature of such truth. (p.270)


David Bohm challenges exactly what we habitually practice, which is trying to make sense of his words and theories by fitting the concepts into boxes. Our language and thinking process tend to divide and fragment information. As he thinks outside the box, it is difficult to find a box to fit his thinking into - thus, it is sometimes slow and difficult reading. Bohm challenges our language as an accomplice to the fragmentary worldview; what he speaks of at once boggles the mind and opens it. The writing provides a phenomenal, rational, profound way of explaining and justifying non-duality and the nature of wholeness. David Bohm offers a philosophical embodiment of 'both/and'.

Rather than reading this theorist with an attempt to understand the minutia, or to follow his thinking line for line, I found it necessary to step back and read for the general concepts. The literal physics with equations and scientific notations are beyond my comprehension; yet they add validity of intellect, science and mathematics. The depth, the simplicity and the profundity of his propositions are nearly unfathomable yet makes so much sense. An internal excitement welled in me as I read this novel approach to the meaning of existence.


Quantum physics characterizes physical situations by wave functions that give a probability measure of the actualization of potentials whereas classical physics looks at the actual state of a system. In quantum theory, there is no relevance to the actual state, as it cannot be separated from the ever changing whole. In the quantum domain, everything is changing and everything affects everything else. The Zen of being present in the moment, for in fact, no moment is like the next, becomes a matter of physics. With subtle but constant motion, measurement is never accurate; there is only impermanence. Being with the changes, however perceptible, moment-to-moment is all there is.

In healing, being with a client, with the subtle nuances of energy shifts, not trying to figure anything out - for what is, is constantly moving, takes the mind off the healing and brings us into the quantum simplicity of the moment. This presence reduces the illusion of separation, devalues judgment, increases contact and moves both the healer and the client toward wholeness and thereby healing. It is lovely that Bohm returns to the key question of whether we can practice awareness of the flowing reality of existence as a means to address fragmentation. It is awareness of our life process that leads to wholeness and keeps us growing and changing and open to the creative current that is always available to us.


Bohm, D. (1980). Wholeness and the Implicate Order. New York: Routledge.


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